Story by Valentina Garcia, News Editor
Photo courtesy of Valentina Garcia
The Aquinas College Student Senate implemented structural changes for the 2019-2020 academic year. These changes revolve around adjusting to fewer senators: instead of electing five students, there will be three senators per class.
The decrease in numbers is the result of a high turnover rate. “We had nine resignations over this year, and two shifts at the e-board level,” Senator Maria Maguire said. Maguire was elected chair of Senate for the 2019-2020 year.
“When we had to replace people, it was really difficult to find people who were interested and had the time to do it,” Maguire said.
Engagement was also a concern. Some were present at meetings, but weren’t given a specific role to fulfill within the Senate body.
“We’re hoping that by reducing the number we can, although it’d be having fewer people involved, it’d be stronger engagement from everyone and sort of more accountability to really be effective and make change in their role,” Maguire said.
To help engagement and accountability grow, class senators will be assigned a liaison role. These roles will replace the Student Affairs Committee.
“With fewer representatives we had to restructure, kind of reorder the committees,” Maguire said. The Student Affairs Committee, according the the Aquinas website, worked with different student affairs departments across campus. It was headed by the Vice-Chair of Senate and included a senator from each class. Because the committee is disappearing, the role of the Vice-Chair was restructured as well.
To keep a balance, the executive board will also be smaller. The 12 person Senate will have a five person executive board: Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Budget Director and Academic Affairs Director. The Marketing Director role was eliminated.
The eliminated position was new this academic year. “It was kind of beneficial, but not as beneficial as we hoped,” Maguire said.
Senate will continue to work on marketing outreach, just through a different position. So, although there isn’t a Marketing Director for the next year, senator takeovers on Instagram are still likely.
The initiatives were included on a ballot for students to vote on, but the deciding factor was a senate vote. “The reason we put it on the full ballot was that, if this was something everyone on campus hated and rejected, we would revisit our reasons for doing it,” Maguire said.
But there was support. According to Maguire, 75% of students who completed the ballot supported the changes.
Maguire hopes the smaller senate will increase accountability and engagement within the body.
“My knee-jerk reaction is why are we doing that, but when you look at the reasoning for it, I think it’s going to work out,” Maguire said.
About the Writer:
Valentina Garcia is a fourth-year student who loves sunny days, Jane Austen, and preferred tea to coffee until she started college.